Franco-Españolas is a historic winery located on the banks of the Ebro river in Logroño. It was founded in 1890 by Frederick Anglade Saurat, a Bordeaux négociant who, as countless others, settled in Rioja when phylloxera ravaged France. The name honours the origins, as the company welcomed shareholders from Madrid, Logroño and Bilbao in 1901.
Interestingly, some of its legendary brands like Royal, Diamante and Estilo Borgoña -which became Rioja Bordón in the 1950s- were launched on Franco-Españolas’s very first 1891 vintage.
Some key moments during its over 125 years of history include the departure of French shareholders in 1920, the export boom in the 1960s when the company had offices in Caracas, Buenos Aires, Havana, New York and all major European cities or having been part of the Rumasa group alongside Paternina. In the early 1980s, both wineries were acquired by Rioja businessman Marcos Eguizábal. Franco-Españolas is still family-owned with Borja Eguizábal, third generation, at the helm.
His current task is to rejuvenate the brands and show that classic doesn’t mean old and boring. The new image of its flagship red Bordón Crianza (€7.5) has detached the wine from any classicism with a daring marketing campaign. The style of the wine has also changed. The new Bordón is a fruit-driven, supple and pleasant red thanks to the generous amounts of Garnacha (up to 25%) sourced from vineyards in Tudelilla (Rioja Baja) and San Vicente de la Sonsierra. Winemaker Rubén Provedo is behind these changes.
So far, there are two defined styles: the commercially oriented range and a more serious one, with further ageing. The first starts with the flagship semi-sweet white Diamante (€4.5, diamond in English) followed by the also semi-sweet Diamante de Graciela (€11, 50cl bottle), that is one step higher in terms of quality. A recent addition to the range is Talla de Diamante (€7.5), a dry white which includes 25% Chardonnay in the blend.
In terms of reds, the brand Bordón encompasses all the traditional ageing categories including Reserva (€11) and Gran Reserva (€20) -anyone interested in old Gran Reserva vintages can buy them at the winery. The new Bordón Selección, priced like the Reserva, is modern in style. The long-standing brand Royal now includes young (€4.5) and Reserva (€14) wines.
Launched in the 1990s, in the height of the so called trend for “high expression” wines, Barón D’Anglade was recently renamed Bordón D’Anglade (€27). This is a premium red named after the founder of the winery. Its white counterpart is Viña Sole Reserva (14 €, formerly Viña Soledad Tête de Cuvée). It is classical in style, made from old Viura vines and around three days of skin-contact followed by 18 months of barrel ageing.
Franco-Españolas has kept the ancient model of many Rioja producers. The company doesn’t own any vineyards but holds long-term contracts with wine growers from all over the region.
Franco-Españolas also produces wines in Rueda (Diamante Verdejo) and Ribera del Duero (Marqués de Valparaíso).